Rufus Wainwright’s latest album, the Grammy Award-nominated Unfollow the Rules (for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album), is a full-circle moment in his life and discography. For the album, he returned to some of the same L.A. recording haunts, such as the famed Sound City Studios, where he recorded his self-titled debut LP in 1998. As well, he brought back some of the same L.A.-based session greats, including drummer Jim Keltner, who played also played on the 1975 album Unrequited by Wainwright’s father, Loudon Wainwright III. It had been nearly a decade since Rufus’ last “pop” album (2012’s Mark Ronson-produced Out of the Game), and by design, Unfollow the Rules was a return to the Baroque-pop sounds of his earlier record. That is not to say, though, that it is some kind of pale self-imitation of past glories.
“I consider my first album and this to be two bookends to this, hopefully, first third of my career — but maybe half of it, who knows? But yeah, I'm very set on this, sort of, delineation that this last record has created, where I was able to return to the scene of the crime, shall we say, and really put out something that is related, but also more advanced and more precise with Unfollow the Rules. Also, it gives me the opportunity to now do completely different things, which I've always done anyway, so look out!” he says, once more with a self-deprecating laugh.